By Wendy S. Shaw

This groundbreaking publication brings the research of whiteness and postcolonial views to endure on debates approximately city change.A thought-provoking contribution to debates approximately city swap, race and cosmopolitan urbanismBrings the examine of whiteness to the self-discipline of geography, wondering the suggestion of white ethnicityEngages with Indigenous peoples' studies of whiteness – earlier and current, and with theoretical postcolonial perspectivesUses Sydney for example of a 'city of whiteness', contemplating tendencies reminiscent of Sydney's 'SoHo Syndrome' and the 'Harlemisation' of the Aboriginal group

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Largely relegated to the pre-positivist era, and locked away in the writings and musings of Simmel (1995 [1903]), Benjamin (1978 [1935]) and Wirth (1995 [1938]), urbanism – as a way of life – was largely overlooked during the era of positivism10 in Human Geography (however, see Harvey 1972). As Mike Davis (1990, 2) observed, ‘[t]he ways people lived in cities merely reflected the social organisation of a particular economic order: capitalist urbanism was . . fundamentally different to socialist urbanism’.

The story was set in one of the many African American towns pioneered in isolation during the long marches from slavery and as I read this opening account, a seemingly familiar scenario of oppression suddenly yielded something quite unexpected, and unfamiliar, to me. First, the perpetrators of the crime were not ‘white’, ethnically speaking, which was what I had expected (from reading stories about brutal oppression of minority groups). Second, and the real bombshell for me, was that the ‘white girl’ did not fit my understanding of the term ‘white’ – she was (I believe) an Indigenous (‘Native’) North American.

By the mid 1980s, critical race research was increasingly concerned with the ‘nature of ethnic politics’ and interrogation of, for instance, the notion of the ‘ethnic problem’ (Jackson 1985a). At that time, Jackson also observed a gap in research relating to the analysis of ‘white society’. Noting that ‘white institutions . . generat[e] racial inequality’ (Karn in Jackson 1985a, 100), Jackson called for increased attention to be paid to the (white dominated) mass media (Gabriel 1998) and flagged the need for geographical research to problematize whiteness.

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